Thursday, January 31, 2008

Just Call Me Sandra Lee!...Wait, NO , PLEASE don't call me that??!!

Don’t we all wish that we didn’t have REAL jobs, that we had organic farmers markets around the corner…and that we all have the time (& money) to make new, and creative dishes every night?

Well…I certainly do not have those luxuries, so I occasionally find my self cooking “semi-homeade” meals. (please stop throwing things at me!!) I try to always use the freshest ingredients in everything that I cook…but sometimes it just ain’t gonna’ happen!!

So…here is a go to meal that I make quite often, especially when it is raining and I can't get to the grill! Peppers stuffed with spicey goodness is sure to warm up these cold nights, it won’t empty your wallet, and is quick to table!

We had the peppers with boiled cabbage...not a great picture, but it was DELISH!! Did someone say CABBAGE??? YUMMMM

Stuffed Peppers

From the Pantry:
10 Roma tomatoes
2 cloves of Garlic minced
1 onion diced
1 box of Dirty Rice Mix (I use Tony’s)
1 lb ground Beef (try using ½ beef and ½ Turkey for a lighter fare)
1 lb grated Sharp Cheddar cheese
***ok…nevermind the Turkey- there’s a lb of cheese here!! Kinda like ordering a diet coke with your whopper***
5 Bell Peppers of assorted color (‘cause is festive!!)
1 tbsp Olive oil

Here we go:

1. Using a pairing knife carefully slit the tomatoe skin around the tomatoe's circumfrence...trying not to cut into the meat.Boil the tomatoes for a few mintutes until you see the skins pulling away from the meat. Drain the tomatoes and let cool.

2. Once the tomatoes are cool to the touch, peel off the skins and discard. Cut tomatoes in half, discard seeds, and dice.

3. Warm the olive oil in a saute pan on the stove over medium heat. Add the diced onion, and let sweat until onion begin to appear transparent. Add garlic and gound beef and saute until the beef in browned. Be careful not to burn the garlic- you may need to turn the heat down a little!

4. Drain the fat off of the saute pan, and add the diced tomatose and the dirty rice mix. Cook per the directions given on the dirty rice box.

5. Cutt the caps off of the bell peppers, and clean thoroughly. Be sure there are no seeds left inside. Once the rice mix is finished, stuff the peppers and place in a cassarole dish. Any of the extra rixe mix can be placed in the dish itself to help stabalize the peppers as they cook.

6. Top with grated cheese and bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.

Now enjoy this yummy goodness!! You can take all the credit..I swear I won't tell anyone where you got the recipe!!

I love using the different colors!! I cannot wait to grow my own this summer!!

Here are the beautiful tomato skins before they were trashed!! I HAD to take a quick pic...too purty!!

Tell me what you think if you try it!! P.S. My spell check will not work,,,so please forgive me. :)


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

No George, You don't eat the whole thing!!

The Stuffed & Grilled Artichokes...looming in the background are the infamous
Sausage & Cheese Biscuits, and the BEST Cheese Straws EEVVAAAAH!!

It seems as though everyone has their own traditions to celebrate the New Year. This was actually one of my first times to feast on the traditional southern staples of black eyed peas, turnip greens, cabbage, rice, etc. and it was all delicious as usual. I think I could survive on stewed cabbage alone if I was stranded on an island full of cabbage foliage- oh how my mind meanders when day dreaming of leafy greens…Mmmmm

I decided to add a new traditional food for New Year’s Day because, well, I am just so darn creative. THE ARTICHOKE!!!! Haha…who thought I was going to say rutabaga?? Robby and I decided to have a New Year’s Eve bash, with way too many fireworks mind you, and the hit of the evening was definitely the stuffed and grilled artichoke!! Although, for some it took a few lesson’s to learn how to properly consume the artichoke leaf. GEORGE THIS MEANS YOU!!

Our dear friends, George and Alana, enjoying the artichoke. If you look close you can see tears in his eye!! HeeHee.

One of our very polite friend was excited to try the artichoke leaf for the first time and proceeded to take one leaf and devour the entire thing without a second thought. After chewing the rubbery leaf for about 10 minutes he looked straight at me and proceeded to tell me how great it was as his eyes began to water- although I think he was really crying! We all began laughing, not at George- we are not that mean- but because we have all done it before! So word to the wise when eating a stuffed artichoke- only the “meat” at the bottom of the leaf is the yummy part!! Just scrape it off the tough leaf and enjoy!!

Below is the recipe for my stuffed and grilled artichoke, I hope you enjoy! I hope to get the recipe for MOM’s marinated artichokes which are great on the grill- especially with grilled tomatoes in the summer…I will keep you updated on my coercion techniques to get it out of mom…and will post it too!!

Stuffed and Grilled Artichoke

Pantry List:
1/2 c Italian seasoned breadcrumbs (I always use Progresso...'cause I am biased like that!)
1/4 c Ricotta cheese
1 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 tsp dried Oregano
1/2 tsp dried Basil
salt and pepper to taste
1 Lemon
1 Artichoke

Here we go!!!:

  1. Start your grill (I always use charcoal...because I am addicted to carcinogens) for a medium-low temp.
  2. Wash off the artichoke and pat dry with a towel. Using kitchen scissors, trim the tops off the leaves, and cut the stem at the base leaving a flat bottom.
  3. Prepare your steamer on the stove...(Kristen- grab a pot with the holes in it, place in in another pot without holes. Add water, not enough to seep through the inside pot, cover with lid, and place on stove over medium-high heat.)
  4. Mix the 1st six ingredients in a small bowl, then add the juice from 1/2 of the the lemon.
  5. Stuff the mixture in-between the leaves of the artichoke, and drizzle remaining juice over the top.
  6. Steam the choke for 25 min, then place on the grill over indirect heat for 20 min.
  7. To test for doneness- the leaves should pull easily from the base of the artichoke.

    I hope you all try this and enjoy!! Please let me know if you do!!


Every One Buckle Up!!! Here We Go!!

Ok…so I have come to realize that there are way too many food bloggers in the blogosphere, that I am absolutely NOT productive if I am in a 3-block radius of a computer with access to the blogospere, and finally that I am surrendering to my everyday idea that “Hey…I could do this! No one will read it or understand it, but I COULD do it!!!” I think that my mom might print it out and stick it on her fridge along with the turkey hands and finger paints I did as I child…which I know is more of a comfort to me that a huge shining achievement!!

I think to myself about the types of blogs that I would want to write, to include personal stories or not, to offer advice or not (who am I kidding…I am such an amateur…this will probably end up as someone’s one moment of condemning laughter as I fumble my way through the kitchen!) But, I am SOOO excited to start this process, to share my learning experiences, and definitely provide some comic relief along the way!!

I have decided to add a more personal touch to this blog…to include personal stories and memories (Gasp, gasp…I can hear all of the serious foodies desperately reaching for their mouses, or is it mice? to exit this page.) I believe that the love of cooking, food, and entertaining is such a personal reflection and journey that I must divulge a snippet of my life. So please excuse my rambling on about other non-food issues, and I hope you stay tuned for my next foodie fiasco!! Check out the REAL website for more serious grilling info...

As I have been feeding my food blog addiction, I am completely amazed at the professionalism and gourmet styling of these people…I mean artists, because in my mind I have let my addiction spotlight these cooks/chefs/everyday peeps into celebrities. ( I swear there is paparazzi staring at me right now through the window…man that didn’t take long!!! I’m ready for my close up!!) Just a joke folks! I am hoping that this blog can become a source of self expression (you should be thanking your lucky stars I didn’t decide to become a painter right now…yikes!!), and that it will document my passion and journey through the culinary world!!!